In response to concerns raised over recently promulgated stormwater management regulations, the Task Force on the Future of Growth and Development in Maryland held a forum at the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) on Friday, January 15. MDE discussed the regulatory changes, which requires adoption of environmental site design techniques, such as vegetated swales, green roofs, rain gardens, pervious surfaces, and rain barrels to treat stormwater runoff. The Maryland Association of Counties (MACo), the Maryland Municipal League, and representatives of the building community presented their concerns. Environmental groups defended the regulations.
The MACo panelists stated they had two concerns with the regulations: (1) the need to grandfather long-term staged projects; and (2) the requirements for redevelopment may make revitalization and Smart Growth projects unfeasible. The testimony lasted over three hours and the MDE conference room was packed with over 200 people, including House Environmental Matters Committee Chair Maggie McIntosh and members of the Environmental Matters Committee.
As reported in the Baltimore Sun:
Critics of the new rules are preparing to seek legislative relief.
Del. Maggie McIntosh, chair of the House Environmental Matters Committee, sat in on the forum, as did several other legislators. Despite assurances from environmental officials that they’ll consider adjusting the regulations in response to the complaints, the Baltimore Democrat said she expected the General Assembly would move to ensure that the storm-water measure doesn’t cause unintended consequences.
“We do not want to make it prohibitive or too costly to do urban or infill redevelopment,” she said. “That will not provide smart growth. It will do just the opposite.”
As reported by Center Maryland:
Members of the Maryland Municipal League sought to present a middle ground, supporting the new provisions, but urging policymakers to examine their effects on the state.
“The devils is in the details,” said Candace Donoho, director of governmental relations at the Maryland Municipal Leage [sic], who expressed concern about the regulations’ impact on downtown areas. By discouraging redevelopment, the provisions, she said, could channel a rise in strip malls on the outskirts of cities, breaking up the “fabric” of the state’s urban centers and towns.
“We don’t want to turn this thing upside down,” she said. “We just want to make it work”